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Race, Ethnicity and Politics Workshop: Shea Streeter (University of Michigan)

Oct 23

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


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Shea Streeter

Talk title: Police Abuse or Just Deserts? Deservingness Perceptions and State Violence In recent years many citizens have taken to the streets to voice concerns about police violence, however, the majority of Americans appear to trust that the state administers violence when deserved. These opinions are divided along racial lines with nearly twice as many Blacks as Whites expressing very little or no confidence in police. Given these patterns, we investigate how race affects perceptions of whether police violence is deserved. We advance this research agenda by using a survey experiment on a large sample of White and Black Americans (N=11,166) to assess how perceptions of race and racial identity shape views about whether state violence is deserved. The results reveal that respondents' own racial identities and perceptions of racial inequality more strongly shape deservingness evaluations than the race of the person targeted in a violent police interaction. In particular, we find that respondents' racial attitudes dictate their deservingness evaluations. Both White and Black respondents who express higher levels of racial resentment were more likely to blame citizens who are abused by police and less likely to blame officers. However, because on average Whites express higher levels of racial resentment, perceptions of who deserves state violence are racially dependent. Access the paper here: